and Sabrina Key live in an ordinary house on an ordinary street in Hanover, MA.
The organic, preservative-free, so-freakin'-delicious-you-could-easily-eat-a-box-in-under-an-hour
bon bons being carefully dipped and decorated in their basement kitchen are
husband-wife team behind Gabbie's Goodies have officially been in business one
year this month. When I met them at this year's Boston Wine Expo, they were surrounded by groaning members of the media and vendors, mouths stuffed with chocolate and melt-in-your-mouth nut butter.
been making peanut butter bon bons for 15 years, but the business part is
totally new for us," Sabrina Key says over the whir of a chocolate tempering
machine, as she shows me a fresh batch of batter. "My mom made them for as long
as I can remember. I would always make them for Christmas, and every year
people would tell me I should sell them. So finally, last year, I said to
Travis, ‘Why not? Let's get a business license.'"
began brainstorming new flavors--starting with pistachio cardamom, a comforting
combination of warming spice and earthy nuttiness. Travis, a devotee of butter
pecan ice cream, dreamed up their smooth and crackly butter pecan flavor,
dipped in white chocolate. Organic cashew with cinnamon, dipped in dark
chocolate and topped with cayenne pepper, is another favorite of theirs.
stay-at-home dad, was initially hesitant to get in on the action. Once he
joined in on the process, however, it came naturally; no training, no classes.
been making them for years," says Travis, placing a just-scooped mound of bon bon
on a sheet of foil. "So just by watching what she does, I was able to pick it
kind of understand the ingredient ratios, you just start creating," she adds,
nodding. "I'm working on dairy free at the moment, and people ask for nut free
ones, which we don't really do yet, but I'm experimenting."
of on-the-side homemade artisanal goods is nothing new. A recent issue of The New York Times Magazine explored
the resurgence of mom-and-pop style products from an economical standpoint. While
the Keys aren't tempering chocolate to pay the rent, their "craft" approach to
their product is something that very much appeals to the locavore (organic,
gluten-free, you name it) shopper.
satisfied with store-bought nut butters, Sabrina, the full-time vice president of Environmental Health Services, Inc., began grinding
her own in her spare time. The process is demanding, but the duo has the
routine down--he molds, she dips and garnishes-- to a machine-like efficiency.
Well, almost machine-like.
each one by hand, and it takes a good long time," Sabrina says, scraping away
excess chocolate. "They have to be beautiful, so that part alone usually ends
up taking a few hours."
tell me that the next step is farming it out, but I really have a hard time
imagining myself doing that," she continues. "If this is going to take off,
it's going to be because there's a lot of personal care put into them."
just the Boston area that can't get enough of the
bonbons--Gabbie's Goodies ships to Phoenix, Seattle, and as Sabrina tells me, their number one
customer lives in Baltimore.
After her neice, Food Network Star:
Season 6 winner Aarti Sequeira, mentioned the Hanover bon bons on her Facebook wall, requests
came flooding in from all over the country.
"It was so
cool to see that happen," she laughs. "Especially in this economy, you have to
be creative. It's a unique product, and there's not many on the market."
about the company's namesake, Gabbie?
sick of us talking about it," Sabrina says, and Travis chuckles to himself. "She's 15, so
she's not exactly into it. Both of our children like to eat them, but you know
what would be really neat? If someday, she kind of carries the torch."
Gabbie shakes her head. "No way," she says, settling in between her parents
behind the counter and smiling. "I just like eating them."
Gabbie's Goodies online at mygabbiesgoodies.com/shop. For more information,